KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Members of Parliament (MPs) and senators still carry out their duties as representatives of the people even though Parliament is not convening, therefore their salaries and allowances should be paid, said Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim.
Rais said the MPs and senators continue to perform their duties outside of Parliament, such as meeting the people to channel government assistance, therefore it was not appropriate to cut their salaries or allowances unless they volunteered to do so.
He said this when appearing as a guest on Ruang Bicara Programme produced by Bernama TV yesterday.
Rais was responding to a question raised by a caller on the need to cut the salaries and allowances of the MPs and senators as Parliament is currently not convening.
On Jan 12, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had agreed to proclaim a State of Emergency nationwide until Aug 1 to curb the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
However, recently, Istana Negara in a statement stated that Al-Sultan Abdullah expressed the view that Parliament could convene during the Emergency period on a date deemed appropriate by His Majesty on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Rais also disproved the perception that Dewan Negara was just a ‘rubber stamp’ institution that only passes laws approved by Dewan Rakyat adding that it had rejected several laws such as the Pesticides Act 2004 and the Anti-Fake News Act in 2018.
“If the Senate does not approve of Acts under Article 66 and others, then there will be chaos and there are no laws in the country. That perception needs to be corrected. Together with my friends, we will try to restore the image at the national and international arena,” he said.
Another panel member, constitutional expert Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Abd Aziz said the Dewan Negara represents the interests of the various states in Malaysia.
“Two Senate members are appointed from among the state assemblymen of each state to take care of its welfare issues. They also protect the groups not represented by the Dewan Rakyat such as the Orang Asli and the Sabah and Sarawak ethnic groups whose representative did not win or contest in the election,” she said.
She further added that it is not right to question the function of the Dewan Negara and all this while people of this country have not been exposed to the importance of the sessions.